Secretary of State John Kerry, in his effort to broker a Middle East peace agreement, has faced a barrage of verbal attacks from high-ranking Israeli officials in recent weeks.

Kerry was cast as an anti-Semitic mouthpiece by Israel’s Economy Minister for observing the existence of the international boycott movement against Israel, and the economic danger it presents should peace talks fail. And he was branded as obsessive and messianic by Israel’s Defense Minister, who said, “The only thing that can ‘save’ us is that John Kerry will get a Nobel Peace Prize and leave us alone.”

On Wednesday, Kerry fired back on CNN:

“I’m not going to be intimidated and back down … I’ve been attacked before by people using real bullets, not words… No one should distort what we are saying because they are opposed to the peace process.”

For America’s top diplomat, currently engaged in an impossible diplomatic task, these words were uncharacteristically stark and blunt.

These words also indicate not just the growing frustration Kerry is personally feeling, but echo the frustrations of the Obama administration, which has rebuked Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government several times for those denigrating statements made by top officials. (These rebukes have elicited apologies from officials.)

Of course, Kerry is no stranger to being swiftboated – to having distortions and mischaracterizations transposed for the truth. Only this time, Kerry is firing back. Immediately.

Perhaps Kerry’s task is ultimately doomed. Or perhaps he sees something we do not. Either way, he appears unwilling to allow right-wing smear campaigns to deter his efforts.

Such is the advantage of being an appointed politician.


What Do You Buy For the Children
David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, just out from Oneworld Publications.

Follow him on Twitter @David_EHG.


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